What is Kyphosis?

Kyphosis refers to the abnormally excessive convex kyphotic curvature of the spine as it occurs in the thoracic, cervical, and sacral regions. The condition is sometimes known as “roundback” or “hunchback” if the curve is severe. Kyphosis can lead to excessive pressure on the spine causing pain and even lead to breathing difficulties due to pressure put on the lungs.

Even though Kyphosis can occur at any age it most commonly occurs during adolescence. In most cases Kyphosis causes only a few problems and doesn’t require treatment. It can be caused by degenerative diseases such as arthritis; developmental problems, most commonly Scheuermann’s disease; osteoporosis with compression fractures of the vertebrae; Multiple myeloma or trauma.

Other causes include scoliosis (spinal curvature), muscle weakness in the upper back, slipped discs, polio, tumors, and muscular dystrophy.  Kyphosis in elderly women is known as dowager’s hump.

What are the Symptoms of Kyphosis?

Symptoms include: rounded shoulders, spine stiffness, fatigue, mild back pain, and tight hamstrings.

Kyphosis Causes

A variety of agents can cause kyphosis. Some of the causes are underlying medical conditions while others are structural problems.

  • Osteoporosis is one of the causes of kyphosis. It is a bone-thinning disorder that results in crushed vertebrae. It’s prevalent in older adults, especially women, and in people who have used plenty of corticosteroids doses for an extended period. Soft, circular disks that act as cushions between spinal vertebrae dry out and shrink with age, which most of the times worsens kyphosis.
  • Scheuermann’s disease. This disease affects boys more than girls. It attacks adolescents as they begin the growth spurt right before pubescence. The rounding of the back may get worse as the child ceases growing.
  • Diseases such as Prader-Willi disease and Marfan syndrome have been linked to kyphosis in children.
  • Sometimes a baby’s spinal column develops irregularly in the uterus which often leads to kyphosis. Similarly, bad posture among adults weakens the ligaments connected to the spine. Consequently, the spine is forced to curve abnormally and the person ends up with a rounded upper back.

How is Kyphosis Treated?

Will depend on its severity and underlying causes. If a child has Scheuermann’s disease they will usually receive physical therapy, braces, or corrective surgery. If infection is present antibiotics will be given and if tumors are present surgical removal will likely be recommended. Individuals with kyphosis will also be given medication for relieving pain and advised to do yoga in order to increase flexibility and range of motion.

Kyphosis Prevention

  • Avoid smoking, over consumption of caffeine, too much protein intake, and high levels of sodium. All these practices are most damaging things to the bones.
  • Exercises such as yoga and pilates teach weight bearing techniques using one’s body. They are, therefore, ideal because they are gentle on the joints while still using sufficient weight to spur bone regrowth.
  • An intake of calcium-rich foods is highly recommended. Such foods should be paired with foods rich in magnesium and vitamin D for calcium to attain optimum absorption.
  • Pregnant women should take folic supplements to enable development of baby’s bones.
  • Simple behaviors such as the way a person stands can affect the long-term health of the spine. An individual should keep the shoulders and back aligned when standing while engaging stomach muscles to ensure proper alignment.
  • Being keen on the sitting and standing postures is paramount. When using a device, keep it in a forward-looking position. Moreover, maintaining an appropriate chair to table height can promote better spine health.